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Critics Say New Licensing Path Would Put Unprepared Teachers In The Classroom

The Utah State Board of Education is considering a new path to getting a teaching license in Utah. But some lawmakers and education groups aren’t ready to support the plan.

Barb Whitman is a teacher at Roy High School in Weber School District. She’s also President of the Weber Education Association. She says the proposed rule, called Academic Pathway to Teaching devalues the profession. 

“It’s just pretty much allowing anyone who can pass a test to become a teacher,” Whitman says.

APT would allow aspiring teachers with a bachelor’s degree to pass the required test for the subject they wish to teach and once hired, work under the supervision of veteran teachers.

Whitman says she’s not against alternative routes. That’s how she became a teacher herself.  She had a criminal justice degree and worked with juveniles in the correctional system before she become a teacher. She says she quickly realized how initially underprepared she was. 

“Understanding how to do interventions with struggling students and also students who are excelling.  It’s not just knowing content,” She says.

Whitman says APT would require even less of new teachers.

State School Board Member Leslie Castle believes it would require more.

There are already roughly six alternative routes to licensure in the state. Castle says the existing paths don’t require any demonstration of content knowledge or pedagogy.

“At least we’re saying before you can come into the classroom, with this particular new license, you have to be able to demonstrate that you know math,” Castle says.

The board will vote on the new rule at its August meeting. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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